Four dynamic speakers came to the Montclair Entrepreneurs meetup on March 4 to share their entrepreneurial stories with the students and community members assembled there. Each entrepreneur was introduced by Sharon Waters, interim director and program manager at Montclair State University’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, and gave a timed presentation. This article covers two of the speakers, Clark Lagemann and Lauren Farrell. Tomorrow’s article will cover the other two: Anthony Frasier and Mike Luzio.
Clark Lagemann Says You Are Not Alone in Your Entrepreneurial Struggle
Clark Lagemann, cofounder and managing partner at MedPro Wellness (Cranford), discussed the practices that took him from being a “generic” entrepreneur to a good entrepreneur.
His story started when he was a surgical sales rep sitting in an operating room. He realized that no one understood that doctors should be evaluated by the number of surgeries they had done. “I said, I should build this ranking system. It’d be incredible.”
A few months later, he had a wireframe; a few months after that, he launched his first system; and then a few months later, version 2 launched, then version 3. “This process for me was two-plus years of grinding, every night and every day.” Then he finally quit his sales job. Lagemann told the audience that he was hustling every night and every free moment. “I took my time. I made calculated decisions every day to make sure my business grew,” he said.
It paid off, and Lagemann won accolades. “But I was feeling so empty. What no one knew at the time was that we were running out of money; and I was anxious, stressed out and depressed. Lagemann added that he had felt ashamed because he couldn’t make a go of the company, and he was worried that he would let down his family and that his friends would make fun of him.
That experience taught him a lesson: “If you feel like this, trust me, you are not alone. And if you haven’t felt like this, you probably haven’t worked hard enough.”
To combat his depression, Lagemann decided to enter a triathlon in Sandy Hook. “People were clapping for me,” and he began to get his swagger back. Entrepreneurship is endless, with no discernible finish line, so he chose a race that could give him a successful outcome and build his confidence. The day after the triathlon, he had his confidence back and was pitching again and connecting with clients.
The next year, Lagemann signed up to run in IRONMAN Lake Placid, a 17-hour race in upstate New York. He was up at 4 or 5 in the morning, training, running his business and spending time with family and friends. “I became so disciplined, all distractions went out of my mind.”
So, he concluded, if you run into failure and are feeling bad about yourself, you can get your swagger back. “Choose something that has a finish line,” he advised the audience. “Choose something that people will applaud for you and clap. It makes you feel good,” and helps you feel successful again.
Lauren Farrell’s Story starts with an Entrepreneurship Course
Lauren Farrell is the founder and creative director of Lauren Farrell NY (Westfield), which makes fashionable accessories for women who attend sporting events. She told the group that she had learned about entrepreneurship at a class at Lehigh University. “When I was there, I recognized it was the perfect blend of creativity and business,” she said. The course included a trip to Silicon Valley, where the students got to meet entrepreneurs, and she observed that they all had “this amazing intangible energy and passion that I wanted.”
Farrell learned that an idea will often be sparked by some personal need. In college, “I wasn’t bringing anything out of the dorm besides a credit card, a car key and my room swipe.” She applied for a patent and developed a wrist wallet that looks like a cuffed bracelet. “The idea was to bring your essentials with you in a functional, but fashion-forward way.”
Farrell was the manager of the men’s lacrosse team at Lehigh, and she recalled that a headhunter told her to take that information off her resume before she went to a job interview. However, it was that quirky detail that made her stand out and land a job at Gucci. Also, while she managed the team, she found another problem to solve: All the moms and girlfriends wanted to wear the team colors without necessarily wearing a tee shirt or a jersey. That planted the seed for her future fashion venture.